Elementary School STEPWISE

Open-access STEPWISE-informed teaching & learning materials for elementary school science & technology education


STEPWISE is a theoretical & practical framework for educating students so that they may eventually independently develop & carry out research-informed & negotiated action (RiNA) projects to help overcome harms of their concern in STSE relationships. Our action research team, in collaboration with teachers, have developed numerous teaching & learning resources for students in secondary schools. As summarized below, although we have developed some such resources for students in elementary schools, we would like to develop more of them that we can share with teachers. If you are interested in collaborating with us in such curriculum development (and, possibly, research), write to larry.bencze@utoronto.ca.


In the video at right (below on phones), we provide elementary educators with a brief overview of the STEPWISE pedagogy. This overview video is accompanied by separate videos below for each of the three pedagogical phases. For facilitating student-led RiNA projects after one or more cycles of the 3-phase pedagogy, video-based suggestions & resources provided here may help.

Students Reflect

Teacher Teaches

Students Practise

Facilitating Student-led RiNA Projects

As elaborated in the video at right/below, after students have had at least one cycle of lessons & student activities based on the 3-phase STEPWISE pedagogical framework, the teacher may feel that students have sufficient expertise, confidence & motivation to be asked to design & carry out independent RiNA projects to help overcome STSE harms of their concern/interest. These projects should be as student-directed & open-ended as possible. Teachers should only provide students with supports when necessary, including in terms of possibly dangerous or unethical projects and/or those too conceptually difficult. Teachers in elementary schools may adapt some of our secondary school resources, such as: STSE Issues List & Sample RiNA Project Assignment.

Sample Elementary School Student RiNA Projects

STEPWISE With Students in a Grade 3/4 Class

It has been most common for secondary school teachers of science to use the STEPWISE framework to educate students so they can independently design & carry out effective RiNA projects to help overcome harms in STSE relationships. Some elementary school teachers have had some successes with this, though, when collaborating with members of our action research team. In the video at right, for example, students in a combined grade 3&4 class were able to conduct such projects when the teacher collaborated with a local curriculum coach. A copy of their negotiated lesson plan set is provided here.

STEPWISE in a Grade 6 French Language Learning Class

As shown in the two videos here, students in grade 6 (French Language Learning) in an ‘elite’ private school were able, after reading about hardships endured by Iqbal Masih (also at right) and his later role as child labour activist, to develop educational videos to enlighten people about issues of child labour regarding common commodities. Students worked in groups of three to conduct secondary (e.g., Internet searches) & primary (e.g., surveys of families’, friends’ & neighbours’ knowledge & attitudes) research regarding child labour linked to particular commodities. Our research suggested these elite students seemed to develop strong feelings of empathy for children of their age who happened to be born into much less advantaged contexts.

Child Labour & Coffee Beans

Child Labour & Soccer Balls